5 Keys to Successful Open Innovation Competition

5 Keys to Successful Open Innovation Competition

Table of Contents

After more than 500 challenges organized since the beginning of our adventure, we are always happy to hear that our customers have found more than what they’ve hoped for through their open innovation challenge.

Complacency you said? Actually, 3/4 of our clients renew their open innovation challenge. Among them, some success-stories deserve to be told.

Beyond innovation opportunities: digital transformation, learning by doing… The benefits of open innovation challenges are countless.

We might talk about Atos and SKF in the framework of ” The Industry of the future ” Challenge. This partnership allowed both companies to build business relationships with more than 80 French start-ups from 12 different industries. Or Deutsche Telekom which retained 50 participants as part of its hiring process and 315 undergraduate recruitments with its innovation challenge “Br0ken W3b”.

Significant, right? So, whether you are launching your first innovation competition or the 20th fear not!

To have a successful project you must define your main objectives. Gathering a dream team is also key in order to drive your open innovation challenge into a  success.

Here are 5 points on which you should not skip. 

1. Your innovation competition: a target, a topic, a message

We have identified 4 main objectives you can expect to reach with your innovation challenge.

  • Improving your innovation approach: with the development of new products, services, or uses, by building partnerships with innovative startups, or even by sourcing new technologies. The main drivers of an innovation challenge are to build your innovation roadmap, to quickly find operational startups, and, finally, to innovate to open new markets.
  • Innovative recruitment: by testing the hard and soft skills of hundreds of candidates in real conditions. You can attract entrepreneur profiles who like to face new challenges and develop your employer brand under an innovation’s spectrum (implementation of new ways of collaborative and transversal working).
  • Boosting your digital transformation: with the stimulation of your teams’ creativity, their acculturation to innovation through a learning by doing approach, and their role as an active contributor to the ecosystem. An open innovation challenge is a project itself. It can promote adhesion to your issue as well as a cross-functional, digital, and agile working environment.
  • Launching more captivating marketing and communication campaigns: by switching from a one to many communication to a participative and collaborative one. Innovation competition allows you to have more impact with digital natives, collect ingenious ideas on behalf of the participants and also build marketing campaigns with them. This is what Tinder did by calling the student community on its “Keep it fun contest”.

2. “Teamwork makes the dream work”

To have a successful project, It’s important to surround yourself with the right people. A great community can bring ideas and solutions to your project. It shows how important it is to carefully select your community.

You must choose your community according to the goals you want to reach and the expected outcomes of your delivery. Each community has its advantages: Developers will be able to meet your expectations in terms of technicality. Start-up is the best community to lead your project to a successful end. Students are creative so they might be the most relevant community when it comes to employer brand and defining new uses/products/services.

Your employees can also be a community you can rely on to spot issues related to innovation or process.

3. Make your innovation subject accessible to all

The time has come to decide which topics your innovation challenge will tackle. In other words, the themes on which your participants will work. Attract as many participants as you can by challenging them on interesting topics.

Therefore, it is a crucial stage for your project. A well-defined topic will have a positive impact on the quality of the propositions received.

Although each company has its own topic according to its needs and issues, we can find several recurring themes mainly focused on innovative use, products or services, marketing and communication, sustainable development, social issues or even operating performance.

It is important that the suggested theme is clear, simple and unambiguous to motivate the team members. A specific topic will be easily understood by the participants than an unclear theme. Make it crystal clear!

The emphasis should be on “How can you re-invent the customer’s services experience in the banking sector” rather than “How to increase the net banking incomes in the banking sector”.

4. Your innovation competition step by step

After identifying your objectives, the target community, and your project’s main topic here are the step to follow.

Step 1: Select an innovation management platform

It’s not compulsory but it remains essential.

There are two options open to you:  either you develop a website specially dedicated to your innovation challenge, or you use an already existing platform.

Whatever the solution, it is important to stay customer-centric in your reflection: what are the platforms on which your communities would be more likely to commit.

The innovation management platform constitutes a crucial element of reinsurance for your target community whether it is the students, the startups, or the developers. The question is: “Is your brand sufficiently known for your target community to come and participate directly on your platform?”

Step 2: define the project’s rules and timetable

By launching your innovation competition, you join an open innovation approach. In this context, transparency is a key factor of success. You must be clear and honest regarding the rules of the game: who can participate? What about the issues, the organization? What about intellectual property?…

The open innovation competition highlights should be determined. These are the main steps:

  • The kick-off: the launch of the innovation competition
  • The ideation: submission of the projects by the participants
  • The pre-selection process: the selection of the most promising projects
  • Prototyping: successful teams are going to develop their project and put forward their solution by making a prototype.
  • The selection process: the selection of the most promising projects by a second jury for the final (between 3 and 10 projects)
  • Mentoring: the participants benefit from personalized training: pitch, video, presentation, etc

And last but not least: the brief is an important step towards your innovation competition.

The briefing allows you to provide practical guidance on what is the main topic of the project, what are the rules, and the expectations of your community.

Make it attractive!

5. Communicate at a steady pace and add value to innovation

To attract participants’ and maximize your outcomes, it is necessary to communicate. You must communicate during launch but also throughout your open innovation challenge.

You should note that even if you are a big and famous brand, it is not as easy as ABC to catch the attention of your community target.

Because a well-targeted and relevant communication plan is not an easy task, these are some levers to activate in order to attract their attention:

  • Press release: inform the media of the launch of your hackathon. You can use your brief to draft a short and impacting press release.
  • Social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are your playground. Think of defining a hashtag dedicated to your innovation competition to be able to follow online news regarding your event.
  • Sponsor your social network contents: the scope of your communication actions should be extended on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in order to reach people outside your networks.
  • Communicate with interesting relays: universities, incubators… You must adapt your actions according to the target community: incubators, accelerators, even co-working spaces can be part of your communication strategy. Do not neglect fab labs to reach developers. You can present your challenge to schools and universities to reach students.

One last thing

For a successful open innovation competition, you have to be thoroughly organized.

On average, 28% of the people who register for the challenge do not hand over their project. To reduce this risk, it is essential to maintain your efforts of communication throughout your challenge.

To give you an order of ideas, at Agorize, the promotion of a single challenge gathers 3 to 4 people over a period going from 6 to 10 weeks!

Agorize has an international network of students, start-ups, developers, schools, and incubators that can be quickly activated. We also provide a mix of online communication and event management for every innovation challenge we power.

Now you have a turnkey solution to have a successful innovation competition!

hackathon ebook

Download our ebook to learn 10 unfailing steps to organize a successful hackathon

Sharing is caring

Table of Contents

Related Posts

Logo agorize

Agorize comes from “Agora” and “Rise” and empowers companies and people from all over the world through Open innovation Challenges.

Learn more about  job4ukraine , our initiative to help refugees from Ukraine find a job in Europe.

Our products

Agorize IDEA BOX


Agorize HIRE

Intrapreneurship program

Student challenges

Startup challenges


Digital change management

Agorize for Good




Our challenges 

Project Management

Guide To Innovation Management


Terms of use

Privacy policy

Follow us





Contact us

+33 1 55 43 79 44

Download your ebook

Please fill in the form and your ebook will be sent to your email address 🚀

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all of these cookies.

Send us a message

We will be happy to read it and answer to you as soon as we can.